Anne Lamott: 'Buy Indie or...'
"I always tell people at readings that if they're not buying books at independent bookstores, they're going to get really sh*tty seats in heaven."
"I always tell people at readings that if they're not buying books at independent bookstores, they're going to get really sh*tty seats in heaven."
Beginning Monday, October 24, booksellers will celebrate Pat Conroy Week, honoring the late author (he would have turned 71 on October 26), as well as generating awareness among customers and raising funds for the nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center.
Wanda Jewell, executive director of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, initiated #PatConroyWeek to coincide with the publication of A Low Country Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday). It was the focus of a working session at SIBA's fall trade show, where a group of booksellers discussed ways to celebrate #PatConroyWeek in their stores, including:
Marly Rusoff, Conroy's literary agent and founding director of the proposed Pat Conroy Center, said, "We envision creating a vibrant and connected community of readers and writers by offering engaging author talks and innovative writing workshops, mentorships for young writers, hosting collaborative exhibits and events, sponsoring poetry readings, finding ways to honor teachers, providing resources for teachers and reading groups, and so much more. We will have a small museum where fans can see Pat's desk, among other things, on exhibit. But the truth is we hope to change lives and inspire in others the deep love of language and courageous truth telling that made Pat Conroy such an exceptional writer."
While Aldi "remains focused on groceries and small home products in the U.S. stores," in Germany the discount supermarket chain offers a larger selection of products and recently announced the launch of Aldi Life eBooks "in an effort to build out its digital offerings," German Pulse reported.
The e-book venture joins a music service, powered by Napster, that Aldi already offers, as well as "a new Android-powered tablet that the company has designed especially for a reading experience," German Pulse noted. Aldi Life eBooks will launch with one million titles October 20, in time for the Frankfurt Book Fair. The new reading tablet will launch at the same time for €129 (about $160).
The Aldi Life platform is targeting "a younger generation of customers that are more likely to do their shopping online. The benefit to building this new customer base could also turn out to be valuable should Aldi decide to add online shopping as a key part of their business in the future.... There are no plans to offer these services in the US at the moment, but its digital push may arrive in limited amounts should the strategy become a major business in its home country," German Pulse wrote.
Canada will be guest of honor at the 2020 Frankfurt Book Fair. Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, and fair director Juergen Boos signed the contract for the country's participation last week.
"There is strong international interest in learning more about Canadian publishers, authors, culture and media," said Boos. "Canada brings to the world stage a strong commitment to its bilingual tradition and embraces the diverse immigrant cultures that contribute to its society. We are pleased that Canada accepts this invitation to showcase its rich literary, cultural and linguistic heritage to global industry representatives."
Joly added that the Canadian government "is committed to ensuring that readers everywhere have access to a wide range of Canadian-authored books, and I look forward to showcasing Canada's book industry--as well as our country's artistic and cultural sector--at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2020. This is a fantastic opportunity to enable Canada's artists and cultural entrepreneurs to maximize their full export potential, to help increase their competitive position on the international stage, and to ensure long-term sustainability, which will contribute to Canada's overall economic and social prosperity."
Italian playwright, director and performer Dario Fo, "whose scathingly satirical work earned him both praise and condemnation, as well as the 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature," died yesterday, the New York Times reported. He was 90. Fo wrote more than 80 plays, many of them in collaboration with his wife, Franca Rame, who died in 2013.
Fo's best known works were Accidental Death of an Anarchist and his one-man show Mistero Buffo (Comic Mystery). His books include We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay! And Other Works: The Collected Plays of Dario Fo, Volume 1; Mistero Buffo: The Collected Plays of Dario Fo, Volume 2; The Peasants' Bible & the Story of the Tiger; and The Tricks of the Trade.
In his Nobel lecture, Fo said he shared the medal with Franca, "my companion in life and in art who you, members of the Academy, acknowledge in your motivation of the prize as actress and author; who has had a hand in many of the texts of our theatre.... Without her at my side, where she has been for a lifetime, I would never have accomplished the work you have seen fit to honor. Together we've staged and recited thousands of performances, in theatres, occupied factories, at university sit-ins, even in deconsecrated churches, in prisons and city parks, in sunshine and pouring rain, always together. We've had to endure abuse, assaults by the police, insults from the right-thinking, and violence. And it is Franca who has had to suffer the most atrocious aggression. She has had to pay more dearly than any one of us, with her neck and limb in the balance, for the solidarity with the humble and the beaten that has been our premise."
Clara Elizabeth Johnson, who owned Harold's Bookstore in Wakefield, R.I., died October 4, the Independent reported. She was 70. One of the first New Age bookstores in New England, Harold's "provided many in the community with a gathering place, center of new thinking, and a place of peace," the Independent wrote. In 1995, Johnson sold the bookshop after 20 years in business.
A costumed crowd gathered below street level with the rubble and rats in the historic Seattle Underground at the invitation of the Atlas Obscura Society, to celebrate the launch of the hefty Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders (Workman), part of a 12-city book tour. Pictured: (l.-r.) co-author and Atlas Obscura co-founder Dylan Thuras; Megan Roberts, director of events for Atlas Obscura; and Mark Pahlow, owner of Seattle's own novelty empire Archie McPhee.
Since Karl Kilian opened Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex., "in 1974, the small bookshop on Bissonnet has been a touchstone and a sanctuary for readers and writers, natives and newcomers," the Chronicle reported in its profile of the man who worked briefly as manager of the New Yorker bookstore in the 1960s and, when he returned to Texas, applied what he'd learned to a new venture.
"I thought I'd bring some of the best parts of the New Yorker," Kilian recalled, adding that he wanted a store with cosmopolitan taste--thoughtful journals and magazines, books that celebrated art, architecture and poetry. He didn't have money to advertise, so he hosted store events and readings. Although he didn't have the connections to bring in big-name authors, he had hustle: "You saw a group of people standing on a corner and said, 'Hey, any of you an author? Would you like to have a book party? Come over and read at Brazos Bookstore.' "
In 2006, Kilian took a job as programs director at the Menil Collection, which required him to sell the store, the Chronicle wrote, noting that "when he couldn't find a buyer, a book-loving group of Houstonians--loyal customers and community leaders--went in together. A decade later, the group still owns the store."
At Chronicle Books, Brittany Boughter has been hired as marketing manager, entertainment and art, effective October 17. Most recently, she was digital marketing manager at the London office of Penguin Random House.
Effective immediately, Hachette Book Group is selling and distributing all titles published by Gildan Press, a new imprint of Gildan Media, around the world. Gildan Media, primarily an audiobook publisher, focuses on "the best in personal development."
Gildan Press, New York City, is releasing its first list of hardcover titles in spring 2017, all with simultaneous e-book, e-audio and CD editions. The first titles include Listen: The Art of Effective Communication by Dale Carnegie & Associates; The Science of Money by Brian Tracy; The Top 1%: Habits, Attitudes & Strategies for Exceptional Success by Dan Strutzel; and The Miracle of a Definite Chief Aim (A Napoleon Hill Success Course) by Mitch Horowitz.
The fall 2017 list includes Open the Door, and Close the Sale!: Building Sales Relationships that Last a Lifetime by Dale Carnegie & Associates; The Science of Motivation by Brian Tracy; The Power of the Master Mind (A Napoleon Hill Success Course) by Mitch Horowitz; From Never Mind to Ever Mind by Dr. Robert Rosenthal; and Silva Ultramind's Intuitive Guidance System for Business by Jose Silva, Jr. and Katherine Watson, with Ed Bernd, Jr.
Gildan Media president and publisher Gilles E. Dana commented: "We have had an excellent 13-year relationship with Hachette Audio and Hachette Book Group, who have been the sole distributors of our audio and e-books. Hachette Client Services has an impressive international reputation and we are confident that joining forces with their team will propel awareness and sales of Gildan Press hardcover books."
Effective January 2, Global Publishers Services, which Baker & Taylor launched in August as a worldwide distributor of digital and print books and entertainment products, is taking on its first group of client publishers. They are Sourcebooks , Glitterati Inc., Arcadia Publishing & the History Press and Sellers Publishing.
B&T executive v-p and president of retail markets David Cully said, "The response to Global Publishers Services unique offering has been most encouraging indeed. Independent publishers recognize the numerous gaps and opportunities that currently exist in the marketplace, but don't necessarily have the resources to address those themselves. We are excited to offer a multifaceted solution that fills their needs in a complete and flexible way."
Global Publishers Services v-p and general manager Chitra Bopardikar added: "Our new publishers represent categories that are highly attractive to international customers, such as, young adult and children's educational product, illustrated, gift & novelty, mass market fiction, a variety of terrific non-fiction. We are now focused on introducing their brands to the international marketplace and helping them create a new growth engine for their business."
Flying Couch by Amy Kurzweil (Catapult), an animated trailer celebrating the author's graphic memoir.
Morning Edition: Taraji P. Henson, co-author of Around the Way Girl: A Memoir (Atria/37 INK, $26, 9781501125997). She'll also be on Bravo's Entertainment Tonight tomorrow.
Fresh Air: Jacqueline Woodson, author of Another Brooklyn (Amistad, $22.99, 9780062359988).
Rachael Ray: Steve Young, author of QB: My Life Behind the Spiral (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780544845763).
NPR's Weekend Edition: Brian Wilson, author of I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir (Da Capo, $26.99, 9780306823060).
NPR's On the Media: Greg Mitchell, author of The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill (Crown, $28, 9781101903858).
CBS Sunday Morning: Herman Wouk, author of Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author (Simon & Schuster, $14, 9781501128554).
Sid Gentle Films (The Durrells in Corfu) has acquired the rights to Elizabeth Jane Howard's bestselling five-book series The Cazalet Chronicles. Variety reported that the production company "was founded by award-winning drama producer Sally Woodward Gentle, formerly creative director of Downton Abbey production house Carnival Films."
"Elizabeth Jane Howard is an extraordinary writer, a highly skilled storyteller of understatement and deceptive simplicity," Woodward Gentle said. "The novels are totally addictive with the ability to floor you with their turn of events. They are set in the middle of the 20th century but the themes of love, loss, repression, sex and family ties are shot through with 21st century resonance. I am thrilled that Sid Gentle Films Ltd. has the opportunity to bring this wonderfully epic, family saga to a new generation of drama lovers."
Production has begun on the second season of The Durrells, which was adapted from Gerald Durrell's book My Family and Other Animals and has been "a ratings and critical success for the U.K.'s ITV," Variety wrote. The first six-part season airs on PBS beginning Sunday.
After "surviving an extremist attack in his own country and being forced into exile in Norway," Bangladeshi publisher and writer Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury, who is also known as Tutul, was named winner of the International Writer of Courage award by English PEN's Pinter Prize winner Margaret Atwood, the Guardian reported. The award is shared with a writer who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs, selected by the winner in consultation with English PEN's Writers at Risk committee.
Speaking in London, Chowdury described "a strong effort in Bangladesh to turn the wheels of civilization backwards and repeat the events and lies of a barbaric era.... We are challenging this process through rational thinking and through our writing. Anyone who wishes to counter [us] can do so through their writing. But please do not issue fatwas to have me, to have us, killed. Do not dispatch undercover assassins with knives and guns."
Tutul is a publisher, writer and editor who founded Shuddhashar magazine and publishing house in Dhaka, where he promoted progressive work from Bangladeshi writers and bloggers.
"Not only has he shown huge personal courage in the face of adversity, he has also risked everything to give a voice to many other Bangladeshis who are under threat of being silenced, whether through violence or ambivalence," Atwood said. "At a time when so many of our colleagues in Bangladesh are risking their lives simply by putting pen to paper, it seems very fitting to share this award with Tutul, and to highlight the plight that he and his colleagues continue to face."
The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators announced this year's winners of the Sue Alexander Award and Most Promising Picture Book Award, which were chosen from manuscripts submitted for individual critiques by editors and agents at the SCBWI Annual Conference in Los Angeles.
Heather Zenzen's Sam & Haley won the Sue Alexander Award, which is given to "the manuscript deemed most promising for publication." She will have her synopsis presented to a group of editors and agents. The runner-up was Dear Cat by Zainab Khan.
Kjersten Hayes's How to Build a Rocket Ship in Ten Easy Steps took the Picture Book Award, which recognizes "the picture book manuscript with the most promise." She receives $500 to finish the work-in-progress.
|photo: Elizabeth Niles|
Betsy Gleick joined Algonquin Books as editorial director on June 27, 2016, after a long career as a writer and editor at Time Inc., where she worked at Time and People magazines. As deputy editor of People, she led a worldwide team in coverage of breaking news, politics, education, family and social issues, crime, books and more. Her stories and charity initiatives included such topics as hunger, bullying and LGBT issues. After Time Inc., Gleick worked most recently at Audible, where she was creative editorial director for a new audio product called Channels.
On your nightstand now:
It's not a tidy sight. I am reading backwards and forwards on the Algonquin list--I fear I will never catch up--so I have Kaitlyn Greenidge's We Love You, Charlie Freeman, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin and Chimamanda Adichie's Purple Hibiscus; I am a big fan of her Americanah. Also in the pile: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, which I just finished on vacation, and which deserves every prize there is; crumpled half-read New Yorkers; a smart British parenting book called You Don't Really Know Me: Why Mothers and Daughters Fight by Terri Apter (don't ask!); A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles because I adored Rules of Civility; The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs and Jane-Emily by Patricia Clapp, which are the next books I am reading for the children's literature book group I'm in.
Oh, and upcoming manuscripts and incoming submissions.
Favorite book when you were a child:
This is a hard one. To Kill a Mockingbird was a big one for me. As were all those color-coded fairy-tale books. And Charlotte's Web, which remains an all-time favorite for its beauty, depth and reverence for both language and nature.
Your top five authors:
In no particular order: E.B. White, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, George Eliot and Nora Ephron.
Book you've faked reading:
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon. I had to read it for a college class and just couldn't.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I reread this one every few years. I feel like his characters are shockingly modern. Also, more recently, Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life, which has its haters; I am in the passionately-obsessed-with-it camp.
Book you've bought for the cover:
The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, a gorgeous box set that sits untouched on my shelf. I keep meaning to reread these tales.
Book you hid from your parents:
I grew up in a house full of books and with older brothers, and nothing was off limits. So I'm going to go with a book I read elsewhere--The Joy of Sex, which I found hidden in an apartment where I regularly babysat.
Book that changed your life:
A Room of One's Own. It may be seem cliché now, but it was a key station of the cross in my development as both an editor/writer and a feminist.
Favorite line from a book:
"It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer," from Charlotte's Web. Though "Some pig" is also a contender.
Five books you'll never part with:
Time Is When, a children's book published by my mother before I was born. A set of Shakespeare that belonged to my father. The Silver Palate Cookbook, which remains one of my favorite cookbooks ever. A giant dictionary on a dictionary stand, also from my parents' apartment. And this crazy fat Companion Library book I had as a kid, where you read Little Women, then flip the book over and read (the lesser) Little Men.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. When I was a writer for Time living in London in the late '90s, my New York editor sent me to interview this relatively unknown author whose book was newly out in the U.S. I read that first Harry Potter on the plane up to Edinburgh, and it brought me back to that feeling from childhood when you loved a book more than anything and never wanted it to end. That feeling of absolute passion and absorption--isn't that what we're always looking for?
Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinsky (Doubleday, $30 hardcover, 400p., 9780385523363, November15, 2016)
After all these years and all these regional fall book conferences, I think I've become an accomplished collector of quotations from guest authors expressing their appreciation for independent booksellers. Last week, during the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Fall Discovery Show in Denver, I had the chance to add some vintage quotes to my collection and to reflect on the extended family that is indie bookselling, a "region" without boundaries.
It is a growing family. The 2016 MPIBA show had 221 booksellers in attendance, a solid number helped by the addition of 15 new bookstores. "Both the board of directors as well as myself were elated by the turnout and success of this year's Fall Discovery Show," said executive director Laura Ayrey. "With the onslaught of so many new booksellers this year you could feel the excitement in the air in the exhibit hall and at the author events. They were soaking up every bit of knowledge they could from our seasoned booksellers. I feel confident in saying it was our best show yet."
Anne Holman of the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, summed it up nicely at the General Meeting when she said, "Bookselling is a nice family to be in."
The notion of an extended bookselling family occurred to me when I heard Erin Stead (The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles) recount her bookselling days at Books of Wonder in Manhattan during the Children's Author & Illustrator Breakfast. "I think that booksellers are my family, and that sounds really disingenuous, I guess, but the truth is that I still consider myself a bookseller first and not an illustrator," she said. "If you're wondering, I still go into stores and front and face compulsively."
At Books of Wonder, Stead "worked with some wonderful people who are all still my friends today. And without these people I wouldn't be published.... Working in the store was the greatest education I had for my job.... My first two days they just put a thousand picture books in front of me and said we want you to read all of them and figure out what you like, figure out what you don't like, and figure out why. And it was the best thing I could have gotten. And then at the end I had to shelve them all.... It was a wonderful education."
During the Author Banquet, T.C. Boyle (The Terranauts) expressed his gratitude to indie booksellers "for supporting my book from the very beginning when I was known only to my mother, wife and daughter. Speaking of that daughter, by the way, she works at Skylight Books in L.A." He recalled an event a couple of years ago for his collected stories at which "she introduced me, but, more than that, I read one story, and she read one, too." Boyle also noted that his connection to the indie bookseller family continues to deepen: "I know many of you; I've been to your stores, and I hope that I will continue to do that."
|Author Elan Mastai with MPIBA show volunteer Deb Slater & show photographer Tori Henson|
Elan Mastai (All Our Wrong Todays), a speaker at the Author of Future Releases Breakfast, said: "One of the reasons it's lovely to be here meeting booksellers from around the area is my local independent bookstore, Book City in Toronto. I'm there like every other day.... Probably half the books I buy are because they're just handsold to me by one of the folks who works at the bookstore, like Kylie or Graham or Stacey.... Independent bookstores are a huge part of my life. For me, that's the place that I'm happiest.
"Every time I go to a new city, I always end up in a bookstore. My wife is an avid reader as well, though not quite as obsessive as I am. She's like, 'They have the same books back home.' It's not the same! Because you go to an independent bookstore and it's a vibe. They have certain books that they're going to highlight. I love the handwritten notes. I love talking to people about the books that I wouldn't expect. Maybe it's a local author. Maybe it's an international author.... So I just want to say that you guys are doing the good work out there and I really appreciate it. It makes my quality of life a lot better."
David Shannon (Duck on a Tractor), noted that his book Duck on a Bike "came out a long time ago," but a sequel was possible because "thanks to you guys it was still selling; it was still in the hands of kids; it was current enough for OneBook 4 Colorado to choose it. And that's all independent bookstores and school libraries that are doing that. So we decided we could do the sequel. I would just like to thank you right now personally for allowing me to do this book." He apologized for having to leave immediately after the event to visit his daughter in college. She had been the inspiration for his 2004 book Alice the Fairy. "She's all grown up," he said. "So thank you for being my friends for the whole life of my kid."
All just a part of being in an extended family, bookseller style. More on MPIBA's Fall Discovery Show 2016 in next week's column.